But it is a country of secrets - which only one woman can unlock.
If she can stay alive...
Dr Sally Parsons' lifelong ambition has been to excavate the tomb of the ruthless first Emperor of China. But her hopes are dashed when the project is threatened with closure. She turns for advice to her old tutor Dr Jefferson Binsky, who offers her an amazing deal. If Sally agrees to deliver a computer disc to a contact in China, she will learn the secrets of the tomb of emperor Qin Shi Huang - and how to gain access to it.
But the disc contains the diaries of a man intimately involved with the death and internment of Chairman Mao - and the explosive secret they contain could re-write the past - and re-shape the future.
In this explosive geo-political thriller Humphrey Hawksley draws on years of experience as the BBC's most respected expert on Asian politics and international affairs to create a taut and compelling story that captures a moment when China was about to re-emerge as a global power.
Humphrey Hawksley's writing has been widely praised.
"Draws on his experience as a BBC correspondent to produce a novel of considerable power" - The Times
"Takes the thriller in important new directions" - Craig Thomas
"Provocative and topical" - Daily Telegraph
"Ominous and insightful" - Stephen Coonts
"Realistic and gripping" - Chris Patten
Humphrey Hawksley has been a BBC correspondent specialising in Asia for many years, and has reported from troublespots such as Kosovo and Iraq. In the 19980s he was in India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka - from where he was expelled while covering the Tamil war. From 1990 he was based in Hong Kong and in 1994 moved to Beijing to open the BBC's first television bureau in China
Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books
From the Author
Some of the institutions such as the National Cultural Relics Bureau in Beijing does exist. But Sallys Archaeological Institute of America and Richards Federal Containment Agency are fictitious, although most governments do have secret units responsible for deniable operations.
I drew on much published material, but three books, in particular, should be mentioned. The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Zhisui Li, which described scenes surrounding Mao Zedongs death and the embalming of his body; The Tiananmen Papers compiled by Zhang Liang which recounted conversations within the Chinese government before the 1989 Tiananman Square killings; and The Dragon Syndicates by Martin Booth which portrayed the global threat of the Chinese Triad organisations.
My thanks to William Fu, Farooq El Baz, Liz Jensen, Nancy Langston, Cait Murphy, James Miles and Justin Morris for their invaluable help along their way. A special thanks to Mary Sandys for her work on the text and to Jonathon Mirsky, for the loan of books, documents and glimpses of character.